Sunday, June 13, 2021 

CBS fawns over PC revival of Milestone

CBS News is fluff-coating the new takes on the Milestone line originally co-created by the late Dwayne McDuffie, though it does tell some interesting details about how DC, who originally published the line under their banners, handled the material:
That same year, Milestone's founders signed a distribution contract with the famed DC Comics. But throughout the partnership, DC often became uncomfortable with the progressive storylines and artwork on the pages. The most well-known example: the artwork for an issue of Static, the group's most popular character and arguably one of the most beloved Black superheroes.

The artwork showed the hero, Virgil Hawkins, and his girlfriend kissing on a couch with condoms nearby. DC refused to print the cover, straining its relationship with the Milestone's founders. Both parties compromised by printing a close-up of the two kissing. Inside the book, co-founder Dwayne McDuffie wrote a letter addressing the controversy: "Static is a fun comic but it's never shied away from topics like gang violence, homophobia, and racism. It's not about to start now."
As much as I think his liberal view of homosexuality was ill-advised, I do think DC chickened out on allusions to sex. Espcially if they had no similar objections to graphic violence, and the Bloodlines crossover from 1993 was proof of this. I'm assuming this all had something to do with a far more commercialized approach to storytelling that was turning up in the 1990s, and it wasn't the least bit helpful. The biggest irony is that, not only did DC unreservedly publish the bloodiest moments in Bloodlines, this was a publisher overseeing Neil Gaiman's Sandman to boot, for example, and I recall reading one moment in the 11th issue where a male figure was urinating. Yet they got cold feet when condoms showed up as a backdrop feature? I wonder if they'd be less likely to publish the material seen in the 90s today?

But if McDuffie and company really wanted to push boundaries, as would I, if I were working in comicdom proper, what was the whole point of arranging for these products to be published by DC, instead of an independent outfit like Dark Horse? Why did he even want to sell DC the properties, as they did by the end of the century? It just doesn't make any sense. I'm not even sure if the Milestone line's ever been reprinted in paperbacks in its entirety since that time.

In any case, what's happening now ruins whatever value Milestone once had:
The comic book universe returned in February with the digital edition of "Milestone Returns: Infinite Edition #0," a preview into the universe and its upcoming books, with the physical edition releasing on May 25. The revival draws from the original books by reimagining the "Big Bang" event. This time around, the incident takes place at an anti-police brutality rally where police fire untested chemicals at protesters who gain superpowers.
And as noted before, this is more politically motivated than the original line of books, which drains away all sincerity, and doesn't reflect well on the writers' intentions. So if this revival doesn't last long, it'll be their fault if they end up alienating the audience. But if there's anything to learn here, it's that depending on the content and premise, DC definitely has no issues today with "progressive" writing.

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Saturday, June 12, 2021 

Sound effects on the panels

The Conversation's written about the use of sound effect words in what's otherwise a silent medium, including the words employed when Spider-Man shoots his webbing, and Wolverine takes out his claws. The topic is an interesting one, but the article is ruined when they inject a most entirely unnecessary example:
In My Friend Dahmer, created by a school friend of the infamous serial killer, the protagonist is seen carrying a dead cat on his way home by a group of kids. Comics creator John “Derf” Backderf applies bigger-bold words in one of the kids’ speech balloon to emphasise the shouting and surprise of onlookers.
I can't believe they're spoiling this all for the sake of including the work of a left-wing propagandist. Worst, the word "protagonist" does not suit the subject of a person was, quite the opposite, an antagonist. Why, it all demonstrates what's gone wrong with comics coverage today as much as with writing and illustration: too many politically motivated items, to say nothing of an over-focus on darkness and depression.

So again, the study of sound-effect words in the panels is a good one, but if these kind of divisive subjects are injected into the article, it sullies the whole topic.

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Friday, June 11, 2021 

Loki continues to suffer misuse encouraged by the MSM

Thor's step-brother, the trickster deity Loki, is one of a number of characters who's been overused in past years. Now, Cheat Sheet's making things worse by sugarcoating news about whether the comics and upcoming TV productions based on Marvel characterize him as "gender fluid":
According to a recent promo video for the show, a TVA profile of Loki lists that character’s sex as “fluid.” This revelation has divided fans, some of whom aren’t sure what to make of it. Although Hiddleston’s Loki has often gone from villain to anti-hero and back again, the character has seemingly always been presented as male. Perhaps Loki suggests the character has been gender-fluid the entire time, though fans just didn’t realize it.
This is nothing more than another example of blurring distinctions between people's perceptions of fiction and reality, and already, the article is a dud. Yet it drones on:
At this point, it’s unclear how directly Loki will tackle this question. After all, the god of mischief has a lot of time-travel adventures to go on throughout the series’ six-episode run. In the meantime, the debate rages on about whether this is an accurate depiction of the character. Many defenders of Marvel’s choice to proclaim Loki gender-fluid harken back to Marvel Comics. But how exactly is the character portrayed on the page?
How indeed? Well here's something to consider:
When Loki first debuted in Marvel Comics, the character was presented as male. Even now, Loki’s comics profile on Marvel’s official website is classified as “male.” However, in recent years, the god of mischief has often taken various different forms, including female ones. As the Marvel profile mentions, the character is known as Lady Loki at times too.
See, it's only in the past decade or so they really began to ramp up this absurdity to such extremes; hence, the feeling this is all politicized propaganda, because they make it look as though it's that big a deal, when it stopped being so long before. Yet the news site themselves continue to gush with the following:
Rumors have claimed the Disney+ series will introduce a female Loki. So it’s quite likely the character’s gender fluidity will be addressed somehow. And truth be told, this development gives Hiddleston an opportunity to not only expand the character. In the process, he’ll bring some much-needed LGBTQ representation to the MCU.
Wow, I thought they already long did work on that, recalling the way Scott Lobdell for starters employed heavy-handed emphasis on Northstar's homosexuality, yet here we have a bunch of Orwellian lecturers acting like they didn't, because it's never enough, and won't be even after the MCU in its entirety embraces their sleazy views.

Also, wouldn't you know it, here's a site called Glitched recommending 3 very new Loki-centric stories, written as they were by Daniel Kibblesmith, Al Ewing and Christopher Hastings, and the latter's tale was titled Vote Loki:
An unbelievable mashup of comics and politics. Vote Loki is basically just a giant satire of the American Presidential Election system. The story is centred around Loki’s controversial political campaign to be the new President of the United States and one reporter who’s trying to prove his duplicity.

Loki’s campaign is nothing if not true to who he is as a character. He pledges that he will have the guts to lie outright to all the American people, unlike the other politicians who try to hide their lies. It’s a strange place to see Loki, but it’s also oddly fitting. Vote Loki manages to draw you in and show you just how ridiculous both Loki and politics truly are.
Well I'm sorry to say, but satire doesn't make it artistically palatable, and some of these items were written as anti-conservative metaphors anyway. What's more, partisan politics have been flooding mainstream comicdom so noticeably for so long now, that's but one of the reasons why they're not fun, and not funny anymore. Certainly, politics have become ridiculous, but so has the modern focus upon them in entertainment, and nobody argues whether that's become a disadvantage from an artistic perspective.

And through all this time, nobody asks whether we've taken the obsession with villains too far. Loki may have been depicted in the past as a more honorable villain, but even such characters have been put so front and center in focus lately, it still begs serious queries whether these villain-centric books have become too much.

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Thursday, June 10, 2021 

New graphic novel chronicles Japanese Americans who opposed WW2 era internment

Crosscut has an article about a new graphic novel titled "We Hereby Refuse", discussing Japanese Americans who were against internment over concerns they could assist Germany's National Socialists during WW2:
It’s only been in the past few decades that writers and filmmakers have begun to build a body of literature documenting the forcible eviction and incarceration of some 120,000 innocent Japanese Americans by their own government during World War II.

John Okada’s Seattle-set novel No-No Boy, which was published in 1957 and nearly faded into obscurity before being revived decades later by the University of Washington Press, is a notable exception. And while the number of novels addressing Japanese internment is only increasing, true stories of refusal and rebellion are vital to the historic record and contemporary awareness.

That’s why the Wing Luke Museum assembled a team of two writers and two artists to create a book-length nonfiction comic about Japanese American resistance to the internment.

The writers — Seattle author and filmmaker Frank Abe and Tacoma author and historian Tamiko Nimura — had met before, but they’d never worked together. The artists, Ross Ishikawa and Matt Sasaki, had two completely different styles; Ishikawa was known for warm, cartoony realism while Sasaki tended toward strikingly expressionistic, nearly abstract, illustrations.

They were given a deadline of one year to work together to create a nearly 200-page, full-color comic that combined deep historical research and compelling narrative storytelling. Within that tight time frame, it felt like an impossible task. Partly because, well, it was impossible.

Now, four years later, Seattle publisher Chin Music Press has released We Hereby Refuse: Japanese American Resistance to Wartime Incarceration. It’s well worth the wait.
Is it? Because the article itself looks built on unfortunate partisan politics (and is cartoony art really compatible with the topic?), as indicated near the end:
While We Hereby Refuse honors the past and contributes to the small-but-growing body of work around the wartime internment of Japanese Americans, it has a lot to say about the 21st century, too.

At a time when anti-Asian violence is spiking around the country, when too many Americans are perfectly fine with the idea of caging immigrants with no regard for their rights, and when Black Americans fear for their lives during traffic stops, these stories still speak to the American experience. We tried as hard as we could to forget our past, but we should have known that the past isn’t done with us yet.
Look how they're building on fearmongering and moral panics. It's reprehensible how they make it sound like non-Black police are still non-stop antagonizing Black motorists no matter how petty the issue, while overlooking that Dante Wright happens to be a crook. It's also additionally reprehensible how they ignore and obscure that a lot of the criminals who've been attacking Asians were Black, and this was even the case a decade ago. Tragically, political correctness plays a role in the coverage of these articles, and there's every chance We Hereby Refuse is politically motivated as well. I'm sure the subject has validity, but the way they're approaching it here simply isn't. Besides, no matter how unfair Roosevelt was to Japanese Americans at the time, we can't overlook that Japan itself committed atrocities during WW2, even if they've since improved morally.

Maybe one of the most vital queries is whether the graphic novel unambiguously addresses the topic of Roosevelt's own racism, and that he was a Democrat. If the GN doesn't get into those issues, what's the whole point of producing it in the first place? I know Planned Parenthood's finally admitted founder Margaret Sanger was a racist, but who knows if future leftist biographers, let alone leftist graphic novelists, will ever bring that up in discussion seriously? In which case, how can we expect them to deliver on historical issues like WW2 convincingly?

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Why we may not see a 2nd reprint volume for the 90s Superboy for at least a while

I noticed the left-leaning freelance writer J. Caleb Mozzocco, who wrote for sites like CBR in the past, brought up the 1994-2002 Superboy series' reprint paperback, and the lack of followup collections: I myself happen to own a copy of the above paperback, whose issues were written at the time by Karl Kesel, but I realize it's bound to be a long time before any 2nd volume debuts, compiling the next 10 issues or so...because the disgraced former DC editor Eddie Berganza, who'd been fired 4 years ago for sexual misconduct, wrote a number of issues for the volume, including the 11th and 20th stories, which would presumably be included if a 2nd compilation were prepared. It's sad to say, but even the much-disliked former editor Dan DiDio also has a few issues of this series' concluding issues to his credit (co-written with Jimmy Palmiotti), such as the 96th. That's not likely to appeal to anybody who realizes DiDio was one of the higher echelons who never took convincing disciplinary action against Berganza when he was still in their employ.

It's regrettable such a loathsome man as Berganza has writing credits on books like these, but it explains perfectly why we may not see the volume reprinted in its entirety for a long time, and even then, you'd surely have to make an effort to separate the art from the artist. The publisher probably doesn't want anybody to think they're paying residuals to such an awful man as Berganza, so, that's why much of Kesel's resume for 90s Superboy could sadly be held back from reprints for many years to come.

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Wednesday, June 09, 2021 

Valdosta Daily Times recommends Busiek's Avengers Forever

The Valdosta Daily Times wrote a short item about Kurt Busiek's maxi-series from 1998, Avengers Forever, at a time before the quality of Marvel really went downhill. I do think his work at that time was good, but I want to take issue with one part of the character casting:
...the master stroke of "Avengers Forever" is that it teams up Avengers from various time points: the disillusioned Captain America of the Watergate era; the amnesiac, near-psychotic Hank Pym of the early Yellow Jacket days; but also the contemporary Hank Pym as Giant-Man; the Wasp as team leader; a villain who becomes an Avenger; Hawkeye still dressed in his Goliath costume but without his giant powers, etc.
I think the reason this doesn't really please me in retrospect is because of all the unfortunate regurgitations of the Hank Pym-as-abusive-husband storyline from 1981, which did not have to be, and even if it was handled in better taste than much of today's output, it's still not something they should have to keep referencing, or enshrine as absolute canon. I think it's great that in later tales, Janet Van Dyne and Hank rekindled their love, but that's exactly why fictional characters shouldn't have to be burdened with story elements that for some reason are otherwise dismissed by the PC crowd when real life scum offend.
Writer Kurt Busiek created a brilliant stroke in flinging these team mates together from different points of their lives and careers. It's a joy for long-time Avengers readers. Long-time readers will wonder how they missed "Avengers Forever" 20-plus years ago and may well rejoice for finding it now.
Certainly, these stories, save for a few moments in questionable taste, make for great escapist fare. One more reason it's a terrible shame Busiek's cascaded downhill in nearly 2 decades since, losing his mind over leftist politics, some of which could make one wonder if certain elements in his past work stem from that mentality. That's why he's long become one of many creators whose art has to be separated from the artist.

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Tuesday, June 08, 2021 

Kevin Smith turns to wokeness with animation

Filmmaker and occasional comics writer Kevin Smith may not have been perceived in the past by everyone as somebody sold on political correctness, though that didn't mean some of his films were in good taste (nor his comics, recalling the botched Black Cat miniseries from the early 2000s). But if the following from Cosmic Book News is correct, Smith is turning to such wokeness now, with a new Masters of the Universe cartoon on Netflix:
Last year saw it rumored that He-Man would be replaced by Teela in the new Kevin Smith animated series coming to Netflix this Summer, which wouldn't be a surprise at all and would fit with Hollywood's agenda of replacing male characters (Star Wars, Ghostbusters, Terminator, Doctor Who, etc).

So why not replace the manliest of all, not to mention He-Man is blond?
Oh, they'd replace Conan too given the chance, and he's more dark-haired. Here's a brief comment originally made by Smith, which says:
But after a ferocious final battle forever fractures Eternia, it's up to Teela to solve the mystery of the missing Sword of Power in a race against time to prevent the end of the Universe! Her journey will uncover the secrets of Grayskull at last.
CBN says it looks like the main hero will be replaced in a most tasteless way:
So apparently the Kevin Smith series will see He-Man defeated by Skeletor who becomes Skelegod where Teela then becomes the focus and more than likely defeats Skeletor and ends up with the Power Sword becoming "She-Man."
The lady's character design does look bewilderingly masculine in the press illustrations, though that's surely becoming very common now in some US mediums, to slap womenhood in the face by making various femmes look disturbingly un-feminine. And why do the heroes seem to be working alongside a crook called Evil-Lyn?

Anyway, this probably isn't too much of a surprise coming from Smith, who must be trying to overcompensate for any mistakes he made with female casts in the past, but if he's making the women look un-feminine, that certainly contradicts the notion he's trying to make amends. He was hardly worthy as a filmmaker before, and doesn't look like he'll make a good animator now.

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Monday, June 07, 2021 

Joseph Illidge serves as Ta-Nehisi Coates' apologist

I see the onetime DC editor Joseph Illidge took the time on Newsarama in the past few weeks to give his backing to fellow leftist Coates' idea of how to depict Superman: as a Black character, as though Kal-El's white origins are suddenly invalid:
In a move that could change the course of pop culture's mighty rivers, Warner Bros. is reportedly developing a new Superman film written by Ta-Nehisi Coates, with a Black actor being cast in the lead role as the last son of Krypton, and a Black director to spearhead the story's vision.
And nothing wrong with a scriptwriter who once made desecrating statements about 9-11 rescue operators? This is telling. It goes without saying the whole idea of hiring an almost entirely black staff and main cast does not guarantee merit for the finished product, and Illidge must know that. So what's the use of lecturing us all about this latest race-swapping for sake of 15 minutes of fame?
The response from the general public and the fan community has been as polarized as Superman's adopted home nation on matters of racial equality, and as ironic as the idea of cultural ownership regarding a fictional character who is an immigrant from another planet.
Ah, I see he's parroting the whole obfuscation of Superman's exact origins. Kal-El was an infant refugee from a dying planet, not an "immigrant" in any literal sense. And I better not hear Supergirl was either, since Kara Zor-El's origins were that she too came from an imperiled colony. In any event, it's insulting how these ideologues exploit every facet of sci-fi stories they didn't create for the sake of justifying their absurdist goals. Say, is he implying Superman's Jewish creators and original overseers have no claim - cultural or otherwise - to their creations? I'm not amused by whatever he's insinuating. He continues:
Superman is seen as both the representation of Absolute Good through a combination of idealism, humility, compassion, kindness, morality, and ethics, while also viewed as the flawed hero capable of taking one life to save billions of lives, as portrayed in the film Man of Steel helmed by filmmaker Zack Snyder. He is seen as both perfect and imperfect in a world split between generations of people who want different qualities from their heroes.

He is one of those characters for which there is rarely a middle ground, and we are separated by a hard line between emotional connection and disinterest. Either we feel entitled to define Superman or he provides no connection to our aspirations, which begs the question of whether or not the character has any agency in today's world.

Is Superman an anachronism
?

Warner Bros. has given itself the Herculean task of overcoming past and highly criticized efforts to reintroduce and invigorate Superman with a considerably more controversial version, to make the most idealistic superhero work in our cynical world.
Well I'm not sure how suddenly changing the character's racial background from white to black will overcome past mistakes. If there was any decided error made in the 2013 movie, it was the relentless emphasis on darkness at the expense of brightness. To the point where you couldn't find a valid sense of humor. I think the way Illidge questions whether Supes has agency in today's world is insulting as well. Yet Illidge continues with the following, fishy statements:
Superman's world is the beacon, the light shining from the destination of a future many people consider an impossibility.

That is exactly why Warner Bros. is in a unique position to challenge our society by making Superman something more. More than prejudices. More than xenophobia.

More than a single interpretation, visualization, or cultural point of reference.

A Black Superman is not the issue.

We are.
And just who is "we"? Something tells me he's not alluding to the leftists. Though it does sound like he's implying purists are inherently wrong to defend retaining the hero's white background, along with the dignity of Siegel/Shuster's legacy. He even says:
Our projection of issues with a Black Superman is at the center of a long-overdue reckoning of our world with the failures of Truth, Justice, and the American Way. Failures which have traumatized us with the impact frequency of a jackhammer, and empowered others to victimize people on intimate and large scales without proportionate consequence.
And why does he think they're a failure? Does he comprehend that the extreme liberal values he advocates - which see unrepairable prejudice around every corner, every facet of art and society - are what have led to the failures he speaks of? If not, then again, I don't see why he's wasting everyone's time here. I doubt he's talking about Anitfa/BLM when he talks about empowering to victimize either, even though that's what they've been doing for quite a while now.

Interestingly enough, Nnedi Okorafor, a Black writer who's worked at Marvel, has dismissed the premise as lazy, according to Cosmic Book News:
"Blackwashing white characters is not a step forward. And it WILL bite us in the backside down the line. A black Superman is a lazy sad useless idea, just as a black Roland was. We need new stories. And we can’t be afraid of the extra work it takes to gather new audiences," tweeted Nnedi Okorafor on May 22.

Okorafor continued by making it clear to fans that she said what she meant to say.

“'Well what about….' 'How do you feel about…' Have I not been clear here? I’ve said what I said. Apply my words to your question and get your answer," she tweeted. "This is not a conversation for me."

A fan apparently replied in a now-deleted tweet recommending Idris Elba in the role of the new Black Superman, but Nnedi Okorafor was quick to shoot that down as well.

"Speak for yourself. I detest that idea. That role is far below Elba. He is more than sloppy seconds," she tweeted.
She's absolutely correct. It's also ridiculous how the superhero theme is relied upon so heavily as a grounds on which to build sci-fi tales. When you're developing science-fantasy, the time has come to do more than just make it all about costumed superheroes. Even adventurers without costumes and codenames can be quite engaging. It's too bad Mr. Illidge doesn't have what it takes to argue the same. He seems to be much too ideologically consumed to understand how narrowly cheap he's viewing everything.

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About me

  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
  • I was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. I also enjoyed reading a lot of comics when I was young, the first being Fantastic Four. I maintain a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy in facts. I like to think of myself as a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. I don't expect to be perfect at the job, but I do my best.
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